For the first time in fifteen years, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned early. Originally scheduled to complete our work today, February 28, we instead adjourned yesterday evening. Early adjournment saves taxpayer dollars, and I am pleased that our Republican-led House and Senate were able to accomplish this goal.
I am equally proud of much of the legislation we passed this year, including a fiscally sound budget and meaningful reforms to Virginia's ethics, transparency and disclosure laws. These accomplishments stand in stark contrast to the partisan gridlock that characterizes our federal government. Following are updates on the budget and ethics bills that passed during the final days of session.
Last year, the House passed legislation significantly strengthening Virginia's disclosure requirements for legislators. This year, we expanded those efforts by creating a $100 hard gift cap, requiring legislators to have travel pre-approved by an independent commission, and prohibiting the Governor from accepting campaign contributions from businesses that are seeking money from the Governor's Opportunity Fund.
These meaningful steps will improve transparency, hold elected officials more accountable and hopefully restore some of the public's trust in government. As a citizen legislator, I truly desire to ensure that constituents have confidence in our elected government. I believe that this year's ethics legislation is a meaningful step toward that goal.
A Balanced Budget
Unlike the federal government, Virginia is required to pass a balanced budget. I am pleased that the General Assembly voted on Thursday to support a conservative, responsible budget that does not raise taxes and spends $1 billion less from the general fund than last year's originally-adopted budget.
The budget also puts money into the rainy day fund, eliminates fees and debt proposed by Governor McAuliffe, and rejects Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. The budget sets aside $129.5 million for the rainy-day fund deposit in 2017, which will bring the fund's balance back to approximately $429 million. Additionally, the budget eliminates $33 million in debt and $11.7 million in fees proposed by Governor McAuliffe.
Throughout the year, there are opportunities to remain politically engaged. Following is information about our local Republican committees as well as details about an upcoming event. Your advocacy and engagement on the local level are important, and I hope to see you around the district soon!
Now that the session has adjourned, I have returned to Williamsburg, where I am available for meetings in my district office. As always, if you need assistance with any state agency, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at 757-223-9690 or email at DelBPogge@house.virginia.gov.
Have a great weekend!
Delegate Brenda Pogge
Paid for and Authorized by Brenda Pogge for Delegate